SULPHUR — Brian Thierbach, the Sulphur police officer who fatally shot a dog on April 28, resigned Wednesday after an internal investigation found him in violation of departmental policy and procedure.
Police Chief Lewis Coats said in a news release the investigation of the shooting of Brandon Carpenter’s dog, Arzy, was a joint effort between his unit and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“Officer Thierbach violated the Sulphur Police Department’s departmental policy and procedure regarding use of force and personal conduct and behavior,” Coats said.
Witnesses to the shooting have disputed Thierbach’s claim that he shot the dog only after it tried to bite him. The shooting garnered national attention and outrage in the local community. As of Thursday, the “Justice for Arzy” Facebook page had more than 8,000 likes.
Coats said Thierbach resigned before final disciplinary action was taken. The Sheriff’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation, he said.
“I am a dog lover, and I am deeply saddened by this incident,” Coats said. “I realize there is nothing I can say that would take away the hurt this incident has caused Mr. Brandon Carpenter. The actions of Officer Thierbach did not represent what I expect from the officers of the Sulphur Police Department. Those of us who serve as law enforcement officers do so with the responsibility of serving and protecting the community as professionals. The resignation of Officer Thierbach was accepted so that the officers and community can heal and move forward.”
Alyson Antoon, Carpenter’s attorney, said she is pleased with the results of the internal investigation and the department’s quick action. Antoon said she also respects and appreciates Coats’ comments and apology.
“I believe they came to the right conclusion,” Antoon said. “This is a great start to justice for Arzy and Brandon. Chief Coats coming forward and saying there was wrongdoing by Thierbach is what we really wanted to hear.”
Antoon said she believes Thierbach committed a crime and is waiting to see the outcome of the criminal investigation. Antoon said she will do everything in her power to make sure Carpenter’s legal rights are protected, and she hasn’t ruled out pursuing legal action.
Antoon also said she wants to thank the community for the overwhelming support Carpenter has received.
“It’s just been wonderful,” she said. “People have come out of the woodwork to show their support — both locally and nationally. We really appreciate that. That was essential for him to feel like he had backing in the community.”
Susie Hantz is one of Carpenter’s supporters. Hantz attended the support rally in Sulphur last Saturday and has even decorated her yard and the outside of her home with posters and signs demanding justice for Carpenter and Arzy.
“I am ecstatic over the investigation findings because he (Thierbach) did wrong,” Hantz said. “This is a big first step to the beginning of something new to bring awareness to officers everywhere that this type of behavior isn’t right.”
Hantz said criminal charges should be filed against Thierbach and that she will leave the signs in her yard until that happens.
“Any civilian who shot a dog in the head would get jail time,” she said. “He is no different than anyone else. My signs are not coming down until that happens.”